New Jersey is steeped with rich and diverse history. A copious amount of well-known historical moments of history have occurred here, including: the Battle of Trenton, Edison’s invention: the incandescent light bulb and the Hindenburg disaster. Ramapo College students can take advantage of New Jersey’s historic sites, most of which are only a drive away and are well worth the visit.
Dubbed “The Crossroads of the Revolution,” the spirit of 1776 is still alive and well in New Jersey. George Washington’s famed crossing of the Delaware River is reenacted every year in Mercer County Dec. 24 and 25.
With a visit to the state capitol students can explore the Old Barracks, the British fortifications Washington ambushed on Christmas Day in 1776, and this year is the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Trenton marked by a free reenactment of the skirmish.
Students should mark their calendars for annual events such as the reenactment of the Battle of Monmouth in Freehold. The reenactment of this iconic battle occurs between June 21 and 22.
Jockey Hollow, the New Jersey equivalent of Valley Forge, is in Morristown, a 45 minute drive from Ramapo. This historic encampment preserves the struggles of the continental army during the coldest winter of the war on the scenic grounds of the First Watchung Mountain.
“This stuff is right in our backyard,” said freshman Emily Filocco. “I think all students should visit a historic place at least once, and when we live so close I don’t think anyone has an excuse.”
Located in the Pinelands of South Jersey is Batsto Village, an old iron producing village. Batsto offers self-guided tours for only $5 for New Jersey residents. This old industrial village, with preserved buildings from the era, offer a chance to actually stroll through a different time in history.
An hour’s drive north to Farmingdale will bring students to Allaire Village. Allaire is similar to Batsto in that it is a preserved industrial town, but is operated in a manner similar to Williamsburg, with costumed interrupters and blacksmiths running the village.
Running throughout the year, Allaire is known for its seasonal events such as their Christmas Lantern Tours and Haunted Hayrides in late October, costing $15.
“If you want to go to Fright Fest or something like that with your friends it can cost hundreds of dollars,” said freshman Megan Maddalena. “I know that a lot of little historic places around me offer cheap fun events all the time. You just have to know what’s going on.”
At Menlo Park, students can visit one of the world’s first research laboratories, and take a tour of Thomas Edison’s workshop, where he transformed the world with his inventions, such as the incandescent light bulb.
Perhaps the historic site located nearest to Ramapo College is the Steuben House. Situated in Bergen County, this Revolutionary landmark was owned by the fake baron Von Steuben, general in the Continental Army. The house once served as headquarters. Though his title was fraudulent, Steuben trained Americans to become a military power.
In November, there is a reenactment of the British landing in New Jersey, while a local beloved “Baronfest” takes place in September. The Baronfest festival consist of drinking, music and food in Historic Bridge landing for a $15 dollar admission, $10 if you are a designated driver.
Free time is abundant in college and it is important that it is used wisely. Try to venture out of your comfort zone and learn more about the rich history all around New Jersey, it may be a more rewarding experience than expected.